Batman Subzero

  • Title: Batman Subzero (aka Batman & Mr. Freeze Subzero)
  • Director: Boyd Kirkland
  • Voice Director: Andrea Romano
  • Date: 1998
  • Studio: Warner Brothers Animation
  • Genre: Action, Animation
  • Cast: Kevin Conroy, Michael Ansara, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Loren Lester, Bob Hastings, Mary Kay Bergman
  • Format: Color Animation, Standard
  • DVD Formats: R1, NTSC
  • Length: 67 Minutes

As with many Batman movies, this animated film is more about the villain than about Batman. It’s also the only one of the many DC Animated Universe movies that I saw first on TV, prior to buying the DVD. In some ways, it’s more like a double-length or two-parter Batman: The Animated Series story than a movie (though a true 2-parter would only be about 44 minutes). The film opens with Freeze, outside his survival suit, swimming in the Antarctic with his two pet polar bears – he gathers some fish then returns to his cave, stopping to give the fish to a Native boy. Freeze then goes to give a flower to his beloved wife Nora, who is trapped in a cryogenic capsule that keeps her alive.

An accident occurs — a sub surfaces in the cave, causing a earthquake-like disturbance which destroys Nora’s cryo chamber. Freeze takes her to Gotham City, finds a doctor he had worked with who was an expert in cryogenics, and kidnaps him. They discover the only way to save Nora is an organ transplant, and because of her “rare blood type – AB-” kidnap Barbara Gordon, who is the only one in the donor database who shares that blood type.

Now, anyone with a high school knowledge of basic biology or who’s watched a few medical dramas can spot the major flaw in this plot. First — someone with AB- blood is a nearly universal RECEIVER – they can take any negative blood type (A, B, AB, or O). Only a positive RH factor can’t be used. And second, to be an organ donor – one needs to match a heck of a lot more than blood types, this is why organ matching is so difficult. If only blood matching mattered chances would be as low as 1 in 4 of finding a match, modified by regional variances in blood types. But I digress… Now, if you ignore that little plot hole…

Dick Greyson (Robin) and Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) are on a date when Freeze and his two polar bears arrive and kidnap her. Dick tries to prevent it but is unable to; he gives chase, but eventually Freeze escapes. Batman and Robin investigate, and eventually figure out Barbara is being held on an abandoned oil drilling platform in the ocean. They take the Batwing to rescue her. Meanwhile, Barbara’s gotten herself free for the second time, but she gets trapped on an upper gangway when the doctor Freeze found (and hired to help him with the promise of lots of gold) fires at her with a gun, igniting the fuel tanks. As Batman and Robin arrive, Freeze does too. Barbara gets to the deck of the platform, and Freeze insists Batman rescue Nora. Barbara also points out the Native boy is also trapped below decks. Barbara and Batman rescue Nora and the boy, with some assistance from Freeze (he cools down the fires in their way with his Freeze gun), and bring the two to the Batwing. Then Batman goes back to rescue Freeze. Bruce is crushed when he fails and Freeze falls to his (supposed) death.

In the coda, after seeing the two polar bears and Freeze swimming away, we see Freeze in the Antarctic again, watching through the window of a research station. On TV, he sees Nora Fris (Victor Fris, aka Mr. Freeze’s wife) is alive, thanks to an operation paid for by the Wayne Foundation. Freeze smiles.

Overall, a fairly good story. I liked that Freeze wasn’t portrayed as completely evil (although wanting to kill Barbara to save his wife was pretty heartless), just a man who completely loved his wife and couldn’t stand losing her. I also liked that in their final battle — Batman tries to save Freeze — though Freeze had injured Dick and kidnapped Barbara. Kevin Conroy is an excellent Batman/Bruce Wayne. Ansara does a great job as Freeze. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is great as Alfred as always. The voice cast of Batman: The Animated Series is excellent as always. Barbara Gordon, for some reason, was re-cast — Mary Kay Bergman sounds a bit young, but manages to avoid giving Barbara a “Nancy Drew” feel.

By the way, in case your wondering – I found my copy at a grocery store for $5.00, it’s the last of the DC Animated movies I bought, even though it’s an early one.

Recommendation: For the series Batman collector only; worth a rental/Netflix.
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

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